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Student and tutor module reviews

Putting Java to work

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  • Points: 20
  • Code: M257
  • Level: 2
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Student reviews

Hard work but very rewarding, particularly the introduction of Swing components and concurrency, which were new to me.

I did this course in conjunction with M256, they were timed reasonably well together other than the final exam which was around the same time as a TMA on M256.

As long as you have the time and energy to keep up with the practical exercises, this is a great course.

The pressure of the exam was not helped by a change from the usual venue, which supplied sub-standard furniture, you don't generally expect wooden 'spelks' in your hands from taking a university exam.

All in all though an enjoyable experience.

Veronica Colling

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

Very good course, followed on nicely from M255. Slight bit overlap from M255 at the beginning of this module but was great to get a refresher.

M257 uses a better IDE (NetBeans) and provides real world experience in programming in Java.

TMAs were good and mostly interesting, allowing you to incorporate all that you have learnt in the module books.

The exam was OK and achieved a good result. There were some mistakes in the exam paper but didn't hinder performance. Finished the exam within the 3hrs allocated but was getting fairly tight towards the end for time.

Overall a good module and teaches some good fundamentals regarding Object Orientated Programming. One thing to note that this 20-credit module doesn't feel all the much different to the M255 30-credit module which is a little strange although there were only 3 TMAs for this module where as the M255 there were 4.

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: August 2011

Another great OU course!

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: June 2011

This course does Exactly what it says on the can, and you can't say better than that. It is particularly recommended to anyone with some programming experience who wants to use it as a start point for learning Java, up to and including an introduction to networked working. Entry at this level avoids reiterating dreary OOP basics but does not exclude anyone who has not completed a prior course on that subject. Excellent simple examples of practical application and well founded theory are included.

There are a few minor criticisms: the thread synchronization model presented is too simplistic to get a realistic view and is not logically consistent. If some aspects don't make sense to you do not worry, this is because they don't make sense. The NetBeans IDE version, compulsory because later versions use a different file format, was not ideal: '... a different format,' speaks for itself.

Perhaps obvious, but specific advice as to where to install skeleton TMA projects and how to download and test uploaded files, located on the TMA Download page might be useful.

Martin Thomas Humby

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: November 2010

A good course in my opinion for anyone wanting to learn Java. M257 gave me Netbeans experience and the ability to develop Java User Interfaces and more.

The course material was well organised and easy to follow. The lectures were enjoyable and informative, I would have liked more! The only bad feeling I have toward the course is the grading system.

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: August 2010

I took this course as a means of re-familiarising myself with Java after having not worked with it in over 5 years and not having the motivation to learn it from a book. I certainly did not regret choosing this course to meet this objective. It was, when I took it, based on the 1.5JDK using Netbeans.

The course itself spans the breadth of functionality offered by the Java Standard Edition JDK right from the basic control statements (for, if, switch etc.) right through to developing Swing interfaces. There is a decent mix of theory and practice, balancing the understanding of what you're doing vs. actually spending time writing code.

The TMAs were very practically driven - most questions had you implementing a solution to a problem, such as modelling a set of trains all contending for access to the same tunnel. There were some non-practical questions but these were by far the minority. The exam provided no problems if you understand Java and revised properly. You are given a reference book containing common API functions etc. so it is a test of your understanding rather than your memory.

Since taking this course, I have begun preparing for the SCJP certification. Whilst M257 didn't cover everything that is required for this, and in some areas not to the required depth, it'll put you in a very strong position to finish your preparation independently.

Russell Martin

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: July 2010

Positive aspects of this course...

A good way to gain an initial experience with a modern Java IDE, e.g. NetBeans, which despite looking complex is little more difficult in practice to use than the Delphi or VB development environment.

I enjoyed the TMAs - particularly the practical tasks and questions surrounding multi-threaded applications... really interesting & thought provoking.

My OU tutor was superb & incredibly helpful.

However, I did have a number of both minor and major niggles with this course as an overall package...

1) The style and conventions of programming presented here varies significantly from the style promoted during M255. This, for me, caused confusion and frustration, having previously learned what I thought to be OU 'best practices'. Very surprised that the OU haven't harmonised the content more between the different Java courses as the change in style was quite jarring.

2) If M255 was an example of a course with a well conceived end of course exam that mirrored the content and style of the course materials, such that you knew pretty much how to prepare, then this course was almost the complete opposite. A very unforgiving exam, preceded by the most frustratingly uncertain period of revision I've ever experienced. 3 hours of hand-writing Java code is always daunting, but I found this (20 point course) exam far more taxing than the M255 (30 point course) exam.
This may sound like sour grapes, but I've never taken a course where the gulf between my OCAS and OES scores has been so wide, despite revising to the best of my ability and entering the exam hall with, what I felt was, a good understanding of the courses key concepts. Final result: OCAS: 96 | OES: 77 | Morale & Satisfaction: Low.

3) M255 had tutorials quite local to me (e.g. within a 30 minute drive to Milton Keynes) - M257 required a three+ hour round trip to Nottingham for a two hour tutorial - not practical at all for someone living in Northants. Always left me feeling that my time was better spent reading the materials and working on assignments, rather than spending such a disproportionate amount of time in the car!

4) The exam allocation was at Frog Island in Leicester. The venue itself was fine, but the parking situation is very poor (zero spaces and no nearby public car park) and a worry most people could do without on exam day. Again, no option was offered to take this exam at a more local venue, such as Milton Keynes, despite this being possible with M255.

So overall, M257 was a really mixed bag for me, making it hard to reconcile the input of effort throughout, against the frustrating exam scope & format.

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: March 2010

The course materials were very good. The one problem with the course is that the TMA's empahsised the programming and the exam focused on the theory. Had I not looked at past exam papers I would have incorrectly studied for the exam.

I did learn a lot, but feel the course could be improved by having more focus on the coding and real life application than on the theory, as in the real world it is more important to be able to use the knowledge than to spit out definitions.

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: January 2010

This course just teaches you practical programming skills and nothing else. There is nothing on theory and in my opinion the course was too simple. It doesn't have the high quality of M255, which covers many more topics besides programming, including object orientation and unit tests. In fact, the first block contains nothing new if you have already done M255. There were too many programming exercises that consisted in changing a few lines of code, and only near the end of the course did it start to get interesting, with units on threads and internet programming. As in M255, the best part of the course were the assignments, where you could do some real programming for yourself.

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: January 2010

I was disappointed with some of this course. The first part of this course was basically a review of M255 which as you are suggested to study this before (and I had) then it seemed a bit pointless.

The second part of the course was much better, some interesting subjects were introduced and I learnt a lot and enjoyed this.

As such I thought that the course could have been better structured, and it is disappointing that it was only a 20 point course.

Jason Smith

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: August 2009

As a java developer I found this course relatively straightforward, ranging from the basics up to intermediate level. Java is such a large language that I found the studies on GUI and sockets very interesting. It really broadened my knowledge. My only gripe was the way the exam and assignments scores were not amalgamated in any way, thus giving no incentive to do well in the exam if you've not done too well in the assignments. Recommended none the less!!!

Ian Duncan Moffitt

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: August 2009

A very good second course in Java, building well on the foundations constructed in M255.

If I have one criticism of the course it is that there is a lot of pernickety memorisation in preparation for the examination. I understand that the confines of the examination makes for an unrealistic programming environment, and Java, being similar to other C based languages (in particular, in my case, to C#), made coding accurately with limited access to resources a little akin to playing a piano piece without the music: fine if that is the goal, but in today's programming world, it is a rare situation.

However, even with my small gripe about the examination, the course was excellently presented, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Perhaps this course is a little too large to be properly considered a 20 point course: the workload felt far more like a 30 point course to me. Again, this is a small gripe aimed at an otherwise very good course.

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: August 2009

An enjoyable programming course giving a solid grounding in Object-Oriented principles and the Java language.

Good value for money.

Andrew Rattray

Course starting: October 2008

Review posted: August 2009

A good java course, should be expanded to a 30 pointer though, and needs updating a level or two to bring Netbeans up-to-date!

Darren John Smith

Course starting: February 2008

Review posted: June 2009

I found this course enjoyable to study and as I had very little programming experience I felt it was rewarding to see my code actually working. However, I feel that in comparison to the 30-point courses I have studied previously, this course should definitely be awarded more than 20 points. I also found that my OES was much lower than the OCAS, in fact I am having to resit the exam this year.

I am finding this hard as I have never had to resit before in all 10 of the 30pt courses I have done in the past so having to resit a 20pt course is very frustrating.

Course starting: February 2008

Review posted: April 2009

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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